FETHIYE is well sited for access to some of the region’s ancient sites, many of which date from the time when this area was the independent kingdom of Lycia. The best beaches, around the Oludeniz lagoon, are now much too crowded for comfort, but Fethiye is still a real market town and has been able to spread to accommodate increased tourist traffic. Fethiye itself occupies the site of the Lycian city of Telmessos, little of which remains other than the impressive ancient theatre, which was only unearthed in 1992, and a number of Lycian rock tombs on the hillside above the bus station. You can also visit the remains of the medieval fortress, on the hillside behind the harbour area of town. In the centre of town, off Ataturk Caddesi, the small museum (Tues-Sun 8.30am to 5.30pm; $2) has some fascinating exhibits from local sites and a good ethnographic section.
One of the most dramatic sights in the area is the ghost village of KAYA KOYU (Levissi), 7km out of town, served by bus from the old bus station. The village was abandoned in 1923, when its Anatolian-Greek population was relocated, and all you see now is a hillside covered with more than two thousand ruined cottages and an attractive basilica. Oludeniz is about two hours on foot from Kaya Koyu, through the village, over the hill and down to the lagoon, or a bus ride from Fethiye. The warm waters of this lagoon make for pleasant swimming, if you don’t mind paying the small entrance fee, although the crowds can reach saturation level in high season, in which case the nearby beaches of Belcegiz and Kidrak are better bets. Oludeniz is also the starting point for the Lycian Way, Turkey’s only marked trekking route, which starts from near the Montana Holiday Village on the Fethiye, Oludeniz road and winds along the coast almost as far as Antalya.